This is the story of James W. Smith; a 17 year old youth. James, wanting to collect on a drug debt, forced another 17 year old youth to travel with him to call on the person who owed the debt as that person was a friend of the youth. According to the youth, James and at least one other person threatened him with violence. After the ordeal the youth complained to police and James W. Smith pled guilty to the charge of false imprisonment. A reasonable outcome and nothing strange so far right? Well, just wait for what's to come.
The crime was committed in Wisconsin USA. The lawmakers in this state in their infinite wisdom (cough splutter cough) decreed that a 17 year old offender should be considered an adult whereas a 17 year old victim should be considered a child. Yes, you understand correctly... in a single case involving two youths of the same age one is legally an adult and the other legally a child. That is truly strange and mind bogglingly idiotic. But that's not all folks...
In the enlightened state of Wisconsin, conviction of the crime of false imprisonment of a minor requires the felon to register as a sex offender. So, this 17 year old adult who was convicted of the false imprisonment of a 17 year old child was required by law to register as a sex offender. Ok, surely it can't get any more farcical than this can it? Oh ye of little faith...
James W. Smith appealed against the requirement for him to register as a sex offender on the seemingly reasonable grounds that there was no sexual element to his crime. Of course, the good judges of Wisconsin saw how ludicrous the situation was and upheld his appeal.. right? Not on your nelly. Not only did they reject his appeal, they incarcerated him for a year for failing to register.
Some ignorant folk will claim that the only people who end up on sex offender registers are deviants who've committed heinous sex crimes and deserve to be there. Further, they argue that these registers should be available for everyone to access. I'd be interested to hear how they justify their viewpoints in this case. I'm not arguing that James W. Smith isn't a nasty little toe-rag who deserved to be convicted of his crime. Obviously he's a scumbag. But a sex offender???
Read more about his case at the following links:
The Legal Watchdog: Sex Offender Registries: They're Not Just For Sex Offenders Anymore
Wisconsin Supreme Court Docket No. 08-1011
I wonder what sort of lies and distortions the bigots over at AZU will use to twist the Legal Watchdog blog into being some sort of pro-paedophile propaganda site given it's reasonable approach to the issue.